Interview with Eric Boles
When and why did you become a public speaker?
I feel like I have always been a public speaker. My father was a pastor of a large church and I was always a leader in sports and in school. So it seems like I was often up front speaking or representing my family, faith, school or team. After I finished my pro football career, at first I did not pursue a becoming a public speaker.
But I was fortunate enough to be around some great leaders in business and sports and I became fascinated with leadership and peak performance both personally and professionally. Then I was later mentored by another incredible speaker and trainer, Bob Moawad, and encouraged to share what I was studying and learning and it just kept growing from there. It’s been a highly rewarding journey.
How do you relate the world of sports with the world of business?
Because of growing up playing sports at a high level and then moving into business, sports is somewhat of a filter of how I see things. But sports and business are much more alike than different. If you are going to compete in business or sports at a high level there are very similar things you need to do and qualities you need to have.
Things such as managing and leading change, dealing with setbacks, making others better around you, and doing your best work when the pressure is on, being fearless and courageous, focused on results, and a strong desire to continually improve, are just a few items that leaders of business and sports have in common. I could go on and on! When you get a group of sports and business leaders together it is amazing what they have in common.
What makes your keynotes unique?
Because of my experience in keynoting, training and executive coaching and playing professional sports, I bring a lot of perspective to my message and communicate that in a way that is relevant and that people are motivated to use. I am all about results and cutting through the “noise” to get to the core issues. I feel we learn best with a smile on our face but I will really challenge people to make the changes and deal with the fears and other barriers that get in the way of making those changes both personally and professionally.
I also use a lot of stories to support the principals because I think the stories penetrate the heart and it will inspire us to make the changes to move to a higher level. I don’t want people walking out of the room saying “ Wow! he was really funny”. I want people to say “Wow, his message really touched my heart and I am going to make some changes and get better!”
How would you define a great leader?
This is always a great question. It’s easier to define through a book but to put it into a couple of sentences is difficult. When I talk with leaders and survey people and read the books the answers really vary. But briefly I think a great leader is someone with a vision for the future and the ability to inspire and lead others to follow them and commit to that vision. I know leaders who have a vision but no one want to follow them or commit to the vision. And I see leaders who people want to follow but they have no vision.
There are lots of qualities I think leaders should have but there are lots of exceptions to those qualities. I would like more leaders to be transparent, people of integrity, courageous, humble, inspiring, responsible, and many other positive qualities. But I know many leaders who don’t have those qualities and are still successful in leading their organizations. That is part of what makes it fascinating to study and talk about. There is no magic pill!
What kinds of organizations have you worked with?
I like to work with people! It’s not the organizations that makes working with them so enjoyable it’s the people and hearing their stories. But I have worked with organizations of all sizes and kinds over the years across the globe. Working with leading companies like Starbucks Coffee, Microsoft, USAA, Barclays Bank, Aviva Insurance, Kraft Foods and Hasbro Toys are exciting.
But besides keynoting major leadership and sales events I also work in depth with companies and provide leadership and employee training and consulting to change the culture, improve morale, increase sales, manage the changes and various other people related issues that link to the bottom line. So I not only work with companies of all sizes but I work with them at all levels so I really get to understand their issues and hear their stories. That is exciting to me and makes what I do so rewarding.